Numerous cases of ataxia, hind limb paresis, and paralysis have occurred in cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) cubs over the past 10 yr within the European Endangered Species Program population, including 12 in mainland Europe, two in the British Isles, one in Namibia, and one in Dubai. The condition is the most important medical factor limiting European cheetah population growth. Eight cubs at the Salzburg Zoo, Austria, were affected. They demonstrated upper motor neuron lesions when alive and bilateral, symmetrical myelin degeneration of the spinal cord on necropsy. Ballooning of myelin sheaths surrounded mostly preserved axons, and no spheroids, characteristic of acute axonal degeneration, were found. Myelin loss markedly exceeded axonal degeneration. The syndrome's etiology is unclear, although viral, bacterial, parasitic, genetic, nutritional–metabolic, toxic, and physical causes have been considered.
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Vol. 34 • No. 1